by Michael Jimenez

“We played like a triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team, for the owners, embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing. That’s the word here for this team. We should know better than this. … We stinks.” ~ Carlos Zambrano, former Cubs pitcher, June 5, 2011

What held true last June still holds true today… this team stinks.  The only difference is this year’s team is playing like a AAA team because  the roster is full of players who should be playing at Iowa, not in the confines of Wrigley Field.  It’s also only going to get worse this summer after the team makes the trades many of us expect.  Sure, Anthony Rizzo is coming up within the next few days as his arbitration clock pushes back after June 22nd and we will probably see Brett Jackson at some point this year too, but neither are saviors. Especially not with this team being as bad as it is.

In all of baseball the Cubs offense ranks 3rd to last in WAR, 9th to last in batting average, 3rd to last in on-base percentage, 7th to last in slugging percentage, and 2nd to last in wRC+. The pitching staff has not been much better.  Anchored by Dempster’s Cy Young caliber season thus far the team’s starting pitching is in the middle of the pack.  Our starters rank 15th in WAR, 15th in SIERA, 10th worst in ERA, 16th worst in FIP, 12th worst walk rate and have accumulated the 11th worst strike out percentage.  The bullpen has been horrendous as the Cubs’ relievers rank last in SIERA, 5th worst in ERA, last in FIP, last in BB%, last in K%, and collectively have blown the 4th most saves.

A few seasons of bad baseball is a small price to pay to rebuild the organization for the sustained success Theo and Co. envision.  Developing prospects and stockpiling high draft picks – or assets as Theo likes to call them – is a higher priority than trying to win, with this team, right now.  The Cubs currently sit a half game ahead of the Padres for the worst record in baseball.  In fact, this team is constructed so well to accomplish its goal,  the team is actually on pace for the worst single-season record in the club’s 137 year history.

Year

Winning %

Record

2012

.348

24-45

1962

.364

59-103

1966

.364

59-103

1981

.369

38-65

1901

.381

53-86

It is not all that surprising the 1901 team and the 1981 strike-shortened team did not perform very well, however, those 1960s teams that are currently are atop this list are.  The 1962 club featured four future Hall of Famers including Ernie Banks, Lou Brock, Billy Williams, and Ron Santo and the 1966 Cubs had Banks, Santo, Williams, Fergie Jenkins, Robin Roberts, and a Hall of Fame manager in Leo Durocher.  I did not expect some of the most talented teams this franchise has ever seen to be associated with the worst teams in franchise history.

As for this year’s team  they are destined for the basement of the NL Central and most likely a record they do not want to be associated with, but we won’t remember the 2012 Cubs for their futility.  No, instead, we will remember it as the first step in the right direction.  It’s not the year we are all waiting for, but it is the year that got us to that year.

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